Poll: Sen. Menendez leads all rumored GOP contenders

Despite underwhelming approval ratings in the state, a new poll out Monday shows both President Obama and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) in decent shape in New Jersey ahead of 2012. 

Menendez leads six rumored GOP Senate contenders by double digits, according to the latest Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) PublicMind poll.

The closest GOP competitor is the man Menendez defeated in 2006 — Republican state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. Menendez leads Kean 44 percent to 34. 

The Democrat's largest margin comes against Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R). Menendez leads Guadagno 47 percent to 26. 

The poll of 802 registered voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points and shows a large percentage of voters undecided in each hypothetical general election match-up. 

While the early polling out of the state shows no obvious Republican threat to Menendez, his approval ratings are lukewarm at best, giving Republicans in the state some hope a strong challenger will emerge ahead of 2012. 

A poll out last week from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling found Kean much closer to Menendez in a hypothetical 2012 rematch.

In that poll, Menendez lead Kean by just two points — 41 percent to 39. The Democrat's approval rating stood at just 37 percent.   

The FDU poll also found Obama's approval rating in New Jersey under 50 percent, a measure pollster Peter Woolley sees as a positive given concerns New Jersey voters have over the impact of the healthcare law and the direction of the country.


Poll: Sen. Menendez vulnerable in 2012

A rematch between Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and New Jersey state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R) in 2012 would be a competitive one, according to a new poll out Wednesday. 

Numbers from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling show Menendez with just a slight edge over Kean in a hypothetical 2012 general election match up. Menendez leads 41 percent to 39 percent. 

In 2006, Menendez easily beat back a challenge from Kean, defeating the Republican by a nine-point margin in what was generally a lousy national environment for Republicans. 

But Menendez's approval numbers are now below 40 percent. The poll found just 37 percent approve of the job the Democrat is doing, while 38 percent disapprove. Independent voters in the state also give Menendez low marks — just 32 percent approve. 

It leaves the door open for a Republican to make a real run at Menendez, but the party needs to find a candidate. Political insiders in the state say Kean, the son of a popular former governor, is mulling another bid ahead of 2012, but Republicans appear to have few other options

PPP also found Menendez with a solid lead over another two rumored GOP contenders — TV host Lou Dobbs and the state's newly elected Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. 

Menendez leads Dobbs 47 percent to 35 percent, while the Democrat holds an even large lead over Guadagno — 45 percent to 30 percent. 

Pollster Tom Jensen points out that while Menendez's numbers suggest he's in real trouble in 2012, "New Jersey is not like most places. [Former Gov.] Jon Corzine persistently had a disapproval number in the upper 50s, far greater than Menendez's 38%, and trailed by double digits in most polls up until the last two or three months of the campaign in 2009." 

Corzine ended up losing to Republican Chris Christie by just four points.


Poll: Texans don't want to see a Perry presidential bid

Sixty-one percent of Texans don't want to see Gov. Rick Perry (R) make a run for president in 2012. 

A new poll commissioned by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and a handful of other Texas newspapers found that while Perry's approval rating stands at 50 percent — 73 percent among Republicans — Texans would rather see him remain in the governor's office. 

Perry has repeatedly denied any interest in making a bid for the GOP nomination in 2012, but his name is still being floated in conservative circles. 

Late last year, Perry told the AP that his new book was proof positive he wasn't aiming for the presidency in 2012. The governor said the book, titled Fed Up: Our Fight to Save America From Washington, contains so much anti-Washington rhetoric that it would be a major hurdle in a potential run. 

"I am not interested in going to Washington, D.C., as president, vice president or in anybody's Cabinet," Perry said at the time. 

Perry was elected to his fourth term as governor of Texas this past November. He defeated Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) in a primary before winning the general-election contest over former Houston Mayor Bill White (D).


Poll: Rep. Heller would easily defeat Sen. Ensign in GOP primary

A new poll out Tuesday holds more bad news for Sen. John Ensign's (R-Nev.) 2012 prospects. 

Numbers from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling firm show Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) would easily defeat Ensign in a Republican primary if the senator opted to seek reelection. 

Heller leads Ensign 52 percent to 34 percent in a hypothetical 2012 primary match up. That's a sea change from just three months ago when PPP measured a lead for Ensign over Heller in a potential primary, 45 percent to 37 percent.

The poll also found Heller to be the top choice for 2012 among Republican primary voters in Nevada. Given a choice between seven potential candidates, 30 percent of Nevada Republicans wanted Heller as the nominee, compared to just 20 percent who wanted Ensign. Ensign has not yet announced whether he will seek another term in 2012, but many observers doubt he will run again.

Following Heller and Ensign were Sue Lowden with 12 percent and Danny Tarkanian with 10 percent. Both Republicans ran for the nomination to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in 2010 and lost. Just 9 percent of Nevada Republicans said 2010 Senate nominee Sharron Angle would be their pick to run in 2012.

The poll surveyed 400 GOP primary voters and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.9 percentage points.

A PPP poll from last week showed Ensign trailing every potential Democratic opponent, including Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), in hypothetical 2012 matchups. The same poll showed Heller defeating every rumored Democratic candidate. 

Berkley, meanwhile, said Monday she won't announce her 2012 intentions until late spring or early summer. In an interview with The Las Vega Sun's Jon Ralston, Berkley said of last week's poll, "I took it to heart. I saw where the numbers were and before I make a decision, I have to find a path to victory. If I can find that path to victory, I'm all in."


Poll: Romney starts with big lead in New Hampshire

A new poll shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the early Republican frontrunner in New Hampshire, where he holds a commanding 23-point edge over his closest potential rival — former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.   

The New Hampshire Journal poll, conducted by the Republican firm Magellan Strategies, found Romney comfortably at the head of the pack of rumored 2012 hopefuls with 39 percent of the vote. 

He's followed by Palin at 16 percent, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 10 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 8 percent and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) at 7 percent. 

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty registers a disappointing 4 percent in the survey. That's barely ahead of former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who comes in at 3 percent and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who polls just 1 percent.

To state the obvious — it's very early — but Romney's lead is still notable. So are Palin's favorability numbers, particularly among independent voters. The NH Journal poll measured a net positive favorability for Palin with self-identified independents — 50 percent to 41 percent. 

And while it didn't translate to a better showing against Romney, the poll also found her very popular with the GOP base in the state, which unlike in Iowa tends to be a bit more centrist. Fifty-nine percent of Republicans polled said they have a favorable view of Palin.   

Santorum, who moved closer to a 2012 run earlier this week when he announced his first staff hire in New Hampshire, is heading back to the state for another visit later this month and Pawlenty has a two-day visit to the state on his January schedule as part of his book tour.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is also heading to New Hampshire next month, but denied a report in The New York Post that he's huddling with political advisers and weighing another run for president in 2012. 


Poll: Nearly half of Nevada Republicans want Sen. Ensign to step aside

If Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) opts to run for reelection in 2012 he will have a tough road ahead, even with members of his own party. 

New numbers from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling found 48 percent of Republicans in the state would rather see Ensign step aside in 2012. Just 42 percent of Nevada Republicans want him to seek reelection.

And while Ensign currently trails all potential Democratic opponents, including Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) 45 percent to 42 percent, the poll found Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) leading every potential Democratic hopeful in an open-seat contest. 

Heller leads Berkley 51 percent to 38 percent in a hypothetical 2012 match up. 

Ensign has not yet indicated whether he will run for another term in 2012 following a scandal over his affair with the wife of a former campaign aide. 

Last month, the Department of Justice dropped its probe of Ensign over allegations that a cover-up of the affair was at work in a $96,000 payment made to the parents of Ensign's former mistress. The Federal Election Commission also dropped an investigation into the matter late last year. 

The Las Vegas Sun's political guru Jon Ralston predicted Wednesday that Ensign would not run in 2012, setting up a contest between Heller and Berkley. 

Even if Ensign decides to seek another term, he could still face a primary challenge from Heller, who has publicly suggested that Ensign remaining in the Senate could detract from the needs of the state. 

Ensign and Heller recently broke on the tax cut compromise reached by President Obama and Senate Republicans. Ensign opposed the deal, while Heller supported it. 

The poll also found that Republicans overwhelmingly regret their choice of Sharron Angle to be the party's nominee against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in 2010. A full 68 percent of Nevada Republicans said they should have nominated someone else. 


Poll: Jeb Bush would top Sen. Nelson in 2012

New numbers out Tuesday show Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) leading all of his potential GOP opponents in 2012, with the exception of one: former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.). 

In a hypothetical 2012 Senate contest, the former governor leads Nelson 49 percent to 44, taking close to 30 percent of the Democratic vote from Nelson, according to Democratic-leaning firm, Public Policy Polling. 

The only problem is that Bush hasn't signaled any interest in a 2012 Senate run, and GOP insiders in the state say they have little reason to believe he'll change his mind.

Outgoing Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) and state Senate President Mike Haridopolos (R) are both likely candidates and have indicated they would step aside should Bush decide to jump into the race. Nelson has yet to officially announce his intentions for 2012.

The poll shows Nelson's top-line approval numbers to be poor, with just 36 percent of voters approving. He gets just 45 percent approval from Democrats in the state. But pollster Tom Jensen said Nelson's strength lies in better-than-average approval numbers among independent voters and Republicans. 

Those numbers help Nelson top every potential contender with the exception of Bush. 

Nelson leads Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) 44 percent to 36; he leads LeMieux 47 percent to 36 percent, and he tops Haridopolos 44 percent to 32 percent.


Poll: Tax-cut deal a positive for Obama in Pa.

A new poll out Thursday shows overwhelming support for the tax-cut deal reached by President Obama and Senate Republicans among voters in the key presidential state of Pennsylvania. 

A full 69 percent of voters there approve of the compromise, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll, which also notes a slight uptick in Obama's approval numbers in the state. 

Obama won Pennsylvania with 55 percent of the vote in 2008, but has seen his ratings fall sharply in the state over the past two years.   

The president's approval is still largely split among Pennsylvania voters, with just 44 percent approving to 43 percent who disapprove. But that's an improvement from this past summer, when a Q-poll found 49 percent of voters in the state disapproving of the president's performance. 

The July poll also found 48 percent of voters who thought Obama didn't deserve election to a second term — that number is now 44 percent. 

Obama's overall numbers are still in the danger zone in Pennsylvania as he gets just 41 percent of the vote against a generic Republican in a hypothetical 2012 match-up, but the tax-cut compromise that has incensed the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is overwhelmingly popular with independents in the state.   

A full 72 percent of independent voters approve of the deal, along with 72 percent of Republicans. The number is just slightly lower among Democrats, with 66 percent approving of the compromise.

The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll released late Wednesday also showed widespread approval of the tax-cut compromise, which cleared the Senate easily Wednesday and is set for a vote in the House as early as today. That poll measured 59 percent of voters in agreement with the tax-cut deal.